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Got alcohol? Gov. Brown legalizes flavor-infused drinks

September 21, 2011 |  4:10 pm

Cocktail Aficionados of cocktails infused with fruit, vegetable or spice flavors won a political victory when Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill making them legal.

Although the Prohibition-era restriction on the practice of flavoring vodka, gin and other distilled alcoholic beverages with flavors had largely been ignored, proponents of the bill argued that the old law needed to be changed.

State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulators argued that bartenders who infused the flavors into the spirits violated state statutes designed to keep the three functions of the liquor industry -- distilling, distributing  and serving -- separate.

The updating of the law was sought by a coalition of business and tourist industry groups including the Golden Gate Restaurant Assn., the California Chamber of Commerce, the Family Wine Makers of California and the California Restaurant Assn.

"I'm pleased that the governor has recognized the need to update an unnecessary regulation that has prevented businesses across California from making infused beverages available to their customers," the bill's author, state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), said Wednesday.

"In San Francisco and other cities where tourism is critical to the local economy, restaurant owners have been asked to stop serving infused cocktails in the name of an outdated law written decades ago."

The bill sailed through the state Legislature without receiving a dissenting vote.


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-- Marc Lifsher

Photo: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times